Sudden Death Due To Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest

   Sudden cardiac arrest is the result of heart dysfunction, cessation of breathing and loss of consciousness. The condition usually results from a problem with the heart’s electrical system, which disrupts the heart’s pumping action and stops flow to the body. Sudden cardiac arrest is the same as heart attack when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked. At times, a heart attack triggers an electrical disturbance of muscles that leads to sudden cardiac arrest. 

If not treated at the situation, sudden cardiac arrest can lead to death. Life back is possible with fast, appropriate medical care. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or just giving compressions improves the chances of survival until emergency workers arrive.   

Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest

Signs of sudden cardiac arrest are immediate and unexpectedly will come and include:

  • Sudden collapse
  • No pulse
  • No breathing 
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Rapid beating, fluttering or pounding heart (palpitations)

Sudden cardiac arrest mostly occurs with no warning.

When the heart stops the lack of oxygen rich blood can cause death or permanent brain damage within the minutes. Time is critical when helping an unconscious person who isn’t breathing. 

If anybody is unconscious and not breathing normally, do the following things:

Call for emergency or medical help: 

If you have immediate access to a telephone then call before beginning CPR.

Perform CPR:

Quickly   check the person’s breathing. If the person isn’t breathing normally then start CPR. You can push the person’s chest for revival along with rescue breaths after every 30 compressions. 

If you have been trained in CPR, check the person’s airway and deliver rescue breath after every 30 compressions.

If you haven’t been trained just continue the chest compressions. Allow the ribs to rise completely between compressions. Keep doing this until a portable defibrillator is available or emergency people will come. 


The usual cause of sudden cardiac arrest is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), which happens when the heart’s electrical system isn’t working correctly.

The heart’s electrical system manages the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. If something goes wrong the heart can be too fast or too slow or irregular. Often these arrhythmias are brief and harmless, but also some types can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.  

The most common heart rhythm at the time of cardiac arrest is an arrhythmia in a bottom chamber of the heart. These abnormal electrical impulses cause the ventricles to contract without pumping blood.   

Heart conditions that can change to cardiac arrest:

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen in people who have known heart disease. However a life threatening arrhythmias usually develops in a person with a preexisting, possibly undiagnosed heart defect.  

Conditions include:

Coronary artery disease:

Most cases of sudden cardiac arrest happen in people with coronary artery disease. CAD  causes the arteries to become jammed with cholesterol and other deposits obstructing blood to flow.

Heart attack: 

If a heart attack occurs as a result of severe coronary artery disease, it can trigger ventricular fibrillations and sudden cardiac arrest. After a heart attack the damaged tissue forms a scar. This in turn results in abnormal heart rhythm by formation of short circuits around the scar.

Enlarged heart:

Chronic pressure on the heart causes the muscular walls to stretch and enlarge. Then the heart’s muscle is abnormal, a condition that often leads to arrhythmias. 

Valvular heart disease:

Leaking or narrowing of the heart valves can lead to stretching or thickening of heart muscles. When the chambers become enlarged or weakened because of stress caused by a tight or leaking valve, there is an increased risk of developing arrhythmia. 

Heart defect present at birth:

Sudden cardiac arrest can occur in children or adolescents with congenital heart disease. Adults who have had corrective surgery for a congenital heart defect still have a higher risk of sudden arrest.

Electrical problems in the heart:

In some people the problem is in the heart electrical system itself instead of a problem with the heart muscle and valves. These are called primary heart rhythm abnormalities which may consider the conditions such as Brugada syndrome and long QT syndrome.  

Sudden cardiac arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest

Risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest:

Because sudden cardiac arrest is so often linked with coronary artery disease, the same factors that are risk of coronary artery disease can also cause the sudden cardiac arrest. 

These include:

  • A family background of coronary artery disease
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • An inactive lifestyle 
  • A previous episode of heart attack or a family history of cardiac arrest 
  • A previous heart attack 
  • A person or family background of forms of heart disease, such as heart rhythm disorders, congenital heart defects, heart failure and cardiomyopathy.
  • Growing older the risk of sudden cardiac arrest increase with age
  • Being male 
  • Drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines
  • Nutritional imbalance like low potassium or magnesium levels
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Chronic kidney disease


When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, low blood flow to the brain causes unconsciousness. Consequently, brain damage may occur if your heart rhythm doesn’t rapidly return to normal. Survivors of cardiac arrest might show signs of brain and nerve damage.


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